By Zack Huffman
It was time for the girls 200-meter dash. Alycia Prior of Mt. Zion and Breanna Hubbard of Mundy's Mill were set in the third and fourth lanes. Although four other runners were participating, all eyes at Tara Stadium were on the pair of rivals in the center.
After coming in second behind Prior in the 100-meter dash, Hubbard was looking for some vengeance.
In the preliminary races, Hubbard edged Prior to take the first position, leaving Prior with something to prove.
The starter's gun fired and the two took off with the finish line in sight.
"It's always a blessing when you get to run with competitive people," said Prior in reference to Hubbard. "I've wanted to be able to race and beat her. She's a really good athlete and she's always doing her best."
Not only was Prior racing for herself, but her entire team was counting on her performance. With a first-place finish, Prior had the chance to put Mt. Zion's overall score ahead of the Mundy's Mill after trailing just behind the Tigers for the majority of the meet.
Three hundredths of a second was all it took for Prior to come out in the lead, finally breaking 25 seconds with a 24.91 to Hubbard's 24.94.
"Prior is MVP, bar none," said Mt. Zion girls coach Jason Battles. "Her work ethic is contagious. When she's getting warmed up, the girls follow her lead."
The 300-meter hurdles was next for the girls. Lashaundra Murphy of Lovejoy took first, leaving Maya Collins of Mundy's Mill in second place. Murphy also took first in the 100-meter hurdles.
Mt. Zion answered in the 1600 run as Janisha Orange took first place over Mundy's Mill's Julia Jackson.
The final girls event was the 4x400 relay. With a 4:15.07 preliminary time, Mundy's Mill was the favorite to win, which meant Mt. Zion's two qualifying teams would need at least eight points to regain the lead in overall points.
The Lady Bulldogs earned nine points.
"It feels good," said Battles about the county win. "I knew if the girls did their best we could do it. The girls knew what they had to do going into the 4x400."
With 119 team points to Mundy's Mill's 117, Mt. Zion's girls claimed the county championship for the first time in three years.
Lovejoy dominated the girls long jump. Shauntia Mosley capture first place with an 18-2.5 leap, followed by Murphy who placed second with 16-85.
Morrow's Francine Bryan placed first in the 400-meter dash, finishing just under one minute.
North Clayton's sole gold medal came from the efforts of Kenitria Kitchens, who ran the 800-meter.
On the boys' side, Riverdale plowed through the competition, earning 131 team points to win the county championship.
The win for Riverdale boys was big. Despite being a state runner-up in 2007 and a region champion in 2008, the Raiders had not previous won the county championship since 1997.
"Last year by my boys came back and said 'we've got to work harder," said Callaway.
According to Callaway he felt really comfortable coming into the finals with 50 points from the field events.
"This is good, but we're trying to get to state," said Callaway. "That's our objective."
The biggest opportunities for points came in the 400-meter dash and the 100 and 300-meter hurdles as the Raiders had three finalists in all three events.
Sylvester Baisden of Riverdale, took first in both hurdles events. Riverdale also finished first in the 4x400 relay.
Morrow placed second overall, though the team still finished 47 points behind Riverdale.
Wayman Storey contributed a lot of points for the Mustangs earning a pair of gold medals in the 100 and 200-meter dashes.
Although the boys from Mundy's Mill were unable to repeat last year's county championship win, the Tigers did take first in the long-distance events. Vincent Claiborne earned gold medals in the 800 and 1600-meter runs.
Quarterrio Morgan took first place for Mt. Zion in the 400-meter dash.
Tyler Mickens won the boys high jump on behalf of Mundy's Mill, soaring over the 6-8 mark.